Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Non-tenure-track faculty members at Ferris State University voted Friday to unionize and to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers. The vote is among a series that have taken place at Michigan public universities in recent years, where adjuncts have been organized by the AFT.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 3:00am

The regional accrediting agency for the mid-Atlantic states last month placed on probation 10 of the University of Puerto Rico's 11 campuses, a private independent college in Maryland, and a for-profit institution in the District of Columbia. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education cited the Puerto Rico university because of concerns about the impact of the longstanding student strike (recently settled) on the campuses' ability to meet the agency's standards on governance and the appropriate length of educational offerings. The accreditor cited Baltimore International College for shortcomings related to the faculty role in governance, the size and independence of its governing board, and assessment of student learning at the institution. And Potomac College faces probation for lacking an adequate strategic plan and insufficient goals and use of data related to student learning. In other actions, Middle States continued the probation of the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, placed seven institutions on warning status, including the National Labor College, and removed Rockland Community College, in New York, from warning status.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth faced considerable skepticism when it agreed to take over a private law school -- the Southern New England School of Law -- with many questioning why a state with no obvious shortage of law schools needed to invest public dollars in one. But demand has been strong. The Boston Globe reported that applications and first-year enrollment projections are both double what they were a year ago, with entering student credentials (as measured by grades and test scores) also on the rise.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 3:00am

The House of Representatives has banned earmarks of funds directly to companies, but many corporations that have received earmarks in the past and that want to keep them coming are working through nonprofit groups -- including colleges and universities -- to do so, The New York Times reported. The earmarks technically go to the nonprofit group, which then subcontracts much of the work to a corporate entity. Among the universities cited in the article are Eastern Kentucky University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Toledo.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Dana College's board members -- backed by Nebraska leaders -- are trying to keep the college alive by finding a way to get its accreditor to let the accreditation transfer if private investors buy the institution, The Omaha World-Herald reported. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools rejected that idea last week, leading the investors to say that they would not purchase the college and the college to announce that it would close.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Georgia announced the resignation of Damon Evans as athletics director Monday, following days of speculation over whether he could keep his job after being arrested Wednesday for driving under the influence. Evans initially tried to keep his job and made a public apology. But university officials acted after more details came out about the arrest, particularly embarrassing as Georgia has faced a series of scandals over the years because of the behavior of athletes. Among the details reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: When it became clear that Evans was going to be arrested, he told an officer, "I am not trying to bribe you but I'm the athletic director of the University of Georgia." In addition, when stopped, Evans had between his legs the underwear of a woman who was in the car (who was not his wife, and who was arrested for disorderly conduct).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Michigan State University is shutting down its undergraduate campus in Dubai, saying that it has lost millions of dollars on the effort while failing to attract enough students to make the program sustainable, The National reported. A small master's program will be maintained. Only about 100 undergraduates are enrolled, and Michigan State officials said that their financial plans had assumed larger enrollments.

Terry Denbow, vice president for university relations at Michigan State, told Inside Higher Ed vie e-mail that the university was indeed changing its goals for Dubai. "Our strategic approach is to sharpen our focus in the region and streamline operations in the face of recent and very dramatic worldwide economic challenges. We’ll focus on executive development programs, study abroad, graduate education, research and consulting services, and seek new academic opportunities in Dubai, the UAE, and the region," he said. "We have embarked upon the formal processes needed to shift undergraduate programs there to East Lansing with a seamless transition."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Lincoln Land Community College has agreed to upgrade its softball facilities to settle a complaint filed with the U.S. Education Department under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars discrimination based on sex, The State Journal-Register, of Springfield, Ill., reported. An Education Department inquiry rejected some charges against the college with regard to the treatment of female athletes, but found that there were illegal inequities in facilities.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Mike Adams, a conservative, Christian professor who believes his promotion to full professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington was derailed because of opposition to his views, is getting broad backing on a key point in his legal fight. In a decision in March, a federal judge -- citing a controversial Supreme Court ruling about public employees -- said that newspaper columns that Adams wrote were not protected by the First Amendment (in terms of his case) because he included them in his tenure dossier. Adams has been receiving support from the Alliance Defense Fund. On Friday, several groups that have not weighed in on the merits of Adams' promotion bid filed a brief backing his appeal, saying that the finding that the contents of a tenure file lacked academic freedom protection was a dangerous precedent. The groups backing the appeal are the American Association of University Professors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. Their brief may be found here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Part-time faculty members at Madison Area Technical College are protesting new rules -- approved by the full-time faculty members -- that would allow full-timers to sign up for "overload" courses before part-timers have received assignments, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. The part-timers fear that some in their group will end up with no courses -- as full-timers opt for the extra pay for teaching beyond a full-time schedule.

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